Filmmaking siblings Joel and Ethan Coen have been awarded France's highest cultural honour in recognition of their film work.

The No Country For Old Men directors were both made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in a ceremony in Paris on Wednesday (16Oct13).

During the presentation, Joel joked that the award came as a shock, saying, "Sometimes life plays jokes on you - some of them are very unfortunate, some of them are very fortunate. This is one of the most fortunate jokes I think life has played on us."

French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti added, "We have extremely strong links between French cinema and American cinema so it's natural there's this recognition for two of the greatest directors in the U.S. today."

The pair join previous recipients of the medal including Sir Sean Connery, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Bono and Bruce Willis.